Jessica Parks, Philadelphia Inquirer

Shivering in a black wool coat, Shira Goodman scanned the small crowd assembled at an Ambler park, listened to the gun-control speeches by local activists and lawmakers, and awaited her turn at the microphone.

Aside from the cold – particularly biting for mid-March – this is the type of scene Goodman had envisioned when she accepted the job as executive director of the gun-control advocacy group CeaseFirePA.

What she never expected was that she would become something of a household name, a regular on the TV news circuit, and end up sitting on an advisory panel to Vice President Biden.

Goodman, 42, had been on the job only a few weeks when 26 people – 20 of them children – were gunned down at a Newtown, Conn., school, galvanizing the gun-control movement and forcing the debate to the forefront of the national conscience.

“You know the trite expression ‘It’s like drinking water from a fire hose’? That’s how it was for her,” said CeaseFirePA board president Dan Muroff.

Since Newtown, Goodman has been working day and night, crisscrossing the state and the nation – Saturday rallies, Sunday strategy sessions, 11 p.m. calls from staff.

“It’s a different calculus than I thought when I took the job,” she said. “But I made the change at a really exciting time.”

CeaseFirePA has been around since 2002, building grassroots support and pushing what it calls “commonsense reforms.”

But the organization was always on defense, acting “as a counterweight to the NRA,” Muroff said.

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